Equity Bank’s chief executive James Mwangi has warned Kenyans living in the United Kingdom to act quickly if they want to take advantage of Kenya’s growing economy.
Speaking at a London dinner where he received the Euromoney award for Equity being named the best bank in Africa on Friday Dr Mwangi said that Kenyans should “change their mentality as foreign companies are taking over Kenya while you are sleeping. Wake up.”
The UK-based website Misterseed reported that about 500 guests attended the dinner at the Lancaster London hotel where Dr Mwangi outlined how the bank had achieved its success as well as outlining his vision for Kenya 2030.
Kenya’s Equity Bank has been ranked as the fastest growing bank in Africa. The bank was named by The Banker report earlier this year which is published by the Financial Times. It has also been named the best for retail banking, agency banking and corporate responsibility.
Equity which has branches in six countries is currently ranked as the 25th largest bank in Africa one place behind Kenya Commercial Bank but achieved nearly 30 percent growth in core capital last year.
Last week Patrick Njoroge, the governor of the Central Bank, told the UK’s Financial Times that low commodity prices, regional integration and the diversification of east Africa’s economies were “sources of resilience” for the region.
“We want to exploit them. We will do that by investors coming in, the economy has to be driven by the private sector,” he said. “That confluence of factors is making what would appear to be a positive storm. It won’t last for ever and it will only be there in terms of opportunities for a period of time.”
Overall, the World Bank says that East African nations, which are oil importers, “are providing a rare bright spot as they boast some of the world’s fastest expanding economies.”
Kenya, east Africa’s dominant economy, is forecast to grow about 6 per cent this year, while neighbouring Tanzania and Uganda are expected to expand by 7 per cent and 5.6 per cent, respectively.
There are a number of reasons for optimism across the region including increasing infrastructure investments, fiscal consolidation which is expected to ease pressure on domestic interest rates and a developing private sector.
The World Bank believes that Kenya in particular “has the potential to be one of Africa’s great success stories from its growing and youthful population, a dynamic private sector, a new constitution, and its pivotal role in East Africa.”
But the World Bank also warns that addressing challenges of poverty, inequality, governance, low investment and low firm productivity to achieve rapid, sustained growth rates that will transform the lives of ordinary citizens, will be a major goal.